Whether we like it or not winter is in full swing for most of us. We fished our first Elite event last week, and it was cold and for many of it will be cold for another couple months. Although it’s certainly not my favorite time of the year it does bring a needed break and what you would call the fishing “offseason.” Although you can fish all year round, taking a break from the tournament trail can be beneficial. As it would be in any other sport how you spend your time in the offseason can pay big dividends come tournament time.
The trick has always been figuring out what works best for me in the offseason. The obvious answer would be to spend as much time as you can on the upcoming tournament waters. It’s not always that easy and sometimes not necessary. Every now and then life hinders your ability to go and scout new water. For me the winter has become a busy time. Rigging my new Triton boat, designing wraps, working with sponsors, guiding for Whitetail Heaven Outfitters, trying to hunt a little myself and spending time with my family are all things that hinder me from scouting lakes like I probably should. For a high school student, you might have a whole other list of things slowing you down, but no matter what it is life gets in the way. The key to it all is figuring out that balance.
The truth is seeing a body of water in person is not the only way to prepare in the offseason. In fact, it’s becoming a smaller part for me every year. We as anglers have so much information at our fingertips. Studying Google Earth and watching YouTube videos can get you familiar with a body of water. Checking past tournament history can help you develop a feel for what that body of water is capable of. These things can be done right at home without spending a dime out on the road.
Offseason preparation is not just about scouting new water. It becomes a wonderful time to get our tackle and equipment ready for the next season. I spend time each offseason repairing and building some new MHX Rods. Then I try to go through and sort my tackle. Even if it doesn’t need it. You’d be surprised how relaxing and beneficial it can be to work with your tackle in the offseason. Getting more familiar with the tools that catch fish for you will help in many ways. You will learn how to better use those tools and even repair them quicker when you have a breakdown during a tournament.
I also get acquainted with new gear. I was introduced to a new tackle storage company at ICAST called Gruv Fishing. They sent me some boxes, and I absolutely love them. I’ve switched as many of my boxes over that I can and a few of us anglers are working with them on designing even more solutions. They are unlike any other tackle solution out there.
Taking a break from the tournament trail is also a valuable time to spend working with sponsors. I get that question a lot, “How do I go about getting sponsors?” Well for starters not many sponsorship deals are cut right in the middle of season. If you feel like you need a sponsor to help, now is the time to seek them out. This is also when sponsors host and attend shows, which would be a good time for you and your team to help them. Make yourself available to companies and offer to help them with things in the offseason and see if that doesn’t get you further than just asking for a sponsorship.
Learn the balance that works for you in the offseason. Taking a break from fishing can be a really good thing. Believe it or not you can burn yourself out. Study new water when you can and spend plenty of time in preparation for the next season. Being mentally prepared is just as important as physical preparation.